This week at the Legislature, we are seeing a shift from examining individual bills in committee, toward broader budget proposals. Here is an update from the Capitol.
Some of the most important and bipartisan work done at the Legislature is the work done to make Minnesota a better home for veterans. Because of this, serving on the Veterans Affairs Division has been both an honor and a pleasure. I learned of a major success story in our state which is how effective Minnesota has been in ending homelessness for veterans. We have not eliminated all homelessness, but Minnesota is among the leaders in the nation for meeting this goal. Two priorities that remain are addressing the unique mental health challenges of veterans and meeting the needs of the ever growing aging population. Many of the 42 bills we heard and advanced this session addressed these priorities. My thanks to Chair Bob Dettmer and our DFL lead Paul Rosenthal for their work and leadership.
Monday was Veterans Day at the Capitol, and I took part in a rally in the rotunda. It was also good to see constituent Tommy Johnson who was representing VFW Post #425 in Hopkins.
Earlier this week the Republican Majority announced their budget targets, which set parameters for each finance committee as well as the Taxes Committee. This is the last step before these committees start putting together their “omnibus bills,” which are comprehensive packages of legislation in each budget area. We’re starting to see some of these bills be released, and thus far, it’s a mixed bag.
I've previously mentioned my efforts to expand the Homestead Credit and Renters Refund. The Omnibus Tax Bill contains an increase for these, but unfortunately, only for one year. Regarding the education target, there are some troubling provisions. The successful voluntary pre-K program is eliminated, and the bill underfunds basic investments in our students who attend public schools. I am also disappointed to see the lack of funding for public higher education. Without adequate funding, college aspirations for many will be deferred, diminished, or derailed.
Significantly, the Republican budget proposal only leaves $26 million left on the bottom line for the state rainy day fund. It’s important that we take a balanced, responsible approach to our state budget, especially considering uncertainty at the federal level.
I hope the details of each budget bill will be posted in a timely manner so that members of the public will be fully informed and able to provide adequate input. You can be sure that I’ll push for a budget that invests in the areas that have made Minnesota’s economy strong and will keep us on a path in which all Minnesotans have an opportunity to succeed.
Please stay in touch and share your thoughts on these major topics. Don't hesitate to call or email me any time.